Kevin Hart said on the May 5 episode of “Jimmy Kimmel Live” that it was more or less important for the man who attacked Dave Chappelle on stage to get beaten up for the world to see. Chappelle was performing at the Hollywood Bowl as part of the Netflix Is a Joke comedy festival when a man ran up on stage and tried to tackle him. It was later revealed the man was carrying a plastic replica gun containing a knife. Chappelle’s security team then tackled the attacker. Video footage revealed the attacker had broken his arm.
“Somebody ran onstage and got their ass whooped,” Hart said. “Not scary. It’s one of those things that needed to happen, though…do you want people to continue to think that they can cross that line and break the barrier of entertainer [and audience]? Somebody getting their ass whooped sends a message out to other people that was like, ‘You know, I was thinking about doing that. But after seeing that, I don’t really want to do that.'”
Hart continued, “I think that the world that we’re in right now — there are a lot of lines that are being blurred, and sometimes you gotta take a lot of steps back to take a step forward…I think it’s time to get back to a place of respect for your live entertainer and understand that you’re coming to a show.”
Police arrested 23-year-old Isiah Lee hours after the incident on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced May 5 that Lee would not be charged with a felony. Lee was later charged with four misdemeanor counts, including battery, possession of a weapon with intent to assault, unauthorized access to stage area during a performance and commission of an act that delays an event or interferes with a performer.
“We care deeply about the safety of creators and we strongly defend the right of stand-up comedians to perform on stage without fear of violence,” a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement the day after the attack.
A spokesperson for Chappelle also issued a statement in the aftermath of the attack: “Dave Chappelle celebrated four nights of comedy and music, setting record-breaking sales for a comedian at the Hollywood Bowl. This run ties Chappelle with Monty Python for the most headlined shows by any comedian at the Hollywood Bowl, reaching 70k fans of diverse backgrounds during the first Netflix Is A Joke: The Festival, and he refuses to allow last night’s incident to overshadow the magic of this historic moment.”